Does your colicky baby arch its back?

Back and neck arching in colicky babies

Another very common symptom I see in a colicky baby that indicates some trauma at birth is if they arch themselves backwards. This shows that they are tense in the spine, usually in the neck and upper spine between the shoulders. They may arch after feeding or seem to be stretching backward all the time. Often in addition to the backward arch they also arch upwards looking to the side. If they are doing this to the right for example you can imagine the feeding difficulties a mother might have when it comes to the baby needing to turn left to feed off the right breast. Again a cranial osteopath will be able to gently “unwind” these tensions and allow your baby to straighten up naturally.

What is interesting about this backward arching or “extension pattern” is that it is opposite to the classic colic posture which is “flexion” ie knees up in a ball, going bright red and screaming. For me this illustrates nicely again that colic isn’t caused by one thing. Two mothers can come to visit me with colicky babies; one has the more typical knees up-crying, the other is crying with an arching back. With the first I will think tummy pain, with the second I will be immediately thinking more about birth pressures and the use of cranial osteopathy to relieve the tension.

I have also clinically noticed that backwards arching babies more often seem to have reflux, posset or bring up their milk. The reason behind this is that the tightness in the spine between the shoulder blades is associated with the area through which milk passes into the stomach. The spine can be tight enough to constrict the opening  to the stomach hindering the milk passing through and so reflux is more likely to occur. Cranial osteopaths can also free this tightened spine area.

Does your baby have a strong neck?

Often parents will mention that their baby has a strong neck. It seems that as parents (me too!) we are always looking for our babies to develop quickly and be the first to do something, so when they lift their little heads up to look around we get very excited! However, when they are very new and are doing this a little earlier than is expected it often accompanies the arching mentioned above, and therefore might be that they are a little tight from the birth rather than having a strong neck. This just adds another piece to the puzzle as to why your baby may have colic and will give another indicator to the cranial osteopath where the most tension may be held.

I hope this helps you in some way. This is an extract of the book Calming Colic – How to help the 10 causes of colic by Christian Bates.

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